Babylon 5 question: Londo Mollari's accent

I’m currently watching Babylon 5 on DVD from Netflix. I watched quite a bit of it several years ago when SciFi or some other cable channel was rerunning it, but I’ve never seen it from beginning to end.

One question that’s popped into my head as I’m finishing up Season 1: is Londo Mollari’s accent supposed to be a Centauri accent? Because none of the other Centauri I’ve seen so far speak with that accent, so I can’t figure out if the accent is the character’s, or if it is the actor’s. If it’s the character who speaks that way, why is he the only one?

Also, I just wanted to share a fun background detail I noticed in the episode “Signs and Portents.” When Lord Kiro and Lady Ladira first arrive on the station and Ladira starts having her “vision”, she is in front of a display panel showing events scheduled on the station for that day. And amongst the various mundane events listed, you can see “Rolling Stones Farewell Concert”. I guess it’s no surprise that the animated corpse that is Keith Richards would still be rocking 200 years from now! :smiley:

It’s not the actor’s. His name is Peter Jurasik, he’s from America, and he speaks with a normal American accent in interviews.

  1. No, that isn’t Peter Jurasik’s original accent. He’s from Queens.

  2. Actually, I think Lord Rifa had a similar accent, as did other Centauris.

  3. There’s no reason everyone on an entire planet should have the same accent, you know.

The accent was an invention of the actor portraying the character, Peter Jurasik. Here’s a clip of him at a con, reading a short elegy to Andreas “G’Kar” Katsulas. As such, I’d say it’s supposed to be a Centauri regional accent - not all Centauri have it, although a few other actors tried to put their own spin on it. Lord Refa (seen here, getting one of the most justly deserved comeuppances in television) probably did it best next to Jurasik.

Ambassador Delenn, on the other hand, features Mira Furlan’s natural Croatian accent.

Why should an alien race only have one accent? Earth has plenty of accents to go around, why shouldn’t Centauri have more than one as well?

Why don’t we see Peter Jurasik in everything? I mean, Londo is one of the best acted TV characters in TV history(my opinion). You think we’d see him as a “that guy” in tons of stuff.

Did he retire once B5 was done?

No, he’s done a small amount of work here and there.

He also had a recurring run as “Sid the Snitch” in “Hill Street Blues,” and was seen briefly as the nerdy accounting program in the original “Tron.” But, yeah, he is a really good actor.

Presumably, accents will tend to merge as transportation and communication technologies become better and better.

Even today, regional accents are dying out. I’m 24, and none of my friends have very thick accents, even though some of their parents certainly do.

Because what we’re hearing is them talking via the universal translator - we’re not hearing what they’re actually saying. So the characters should all have the same accent unless either the software doesn’t work with their language fully or they choose to be represented in a different accent. Perhaps Londo wanted to sound foreign to demonstrate that he’s different to the rest.

“Universal translator”? What universal translator?

“we have analysed your language files!”

Well, I’m just assuming there is one - otherwise everyone’s learnt to speak English perfectly except for minor accent differences, including most of the ordinary poor people from distant planets.

There are translators (I’m assuming Kosh is using one) but hardly Universal ones. Everyone we see speaking English is presumably aware that they are going to, you know, a Human space station, so they learned the language. ETA; And sometimes poor aliens are shown speaking poorly.

Or they’re speaking their own languages to each other and we’re hearing it translated, but they’re not, like the convention when German soldiers speak to each other in German-accented English.

As the Doctor put it, “Lots of planets have a North!” (This was the ninth one, and Rose Tyler was surprised that an alien had his type of accent.)

Yah - Babylon Five is actually pretty parsimonious with magical tech. I mean, yes, there is magical tech - godlike aliens, psionic powers, and so on. But the everyday world is somewhat more “grounded” - starting with the fact that gravity on human ship is generated through rotation. I have no problem believing that the population of a human-built and human-administered space station would make a point of learning a human language, and English would be a likely choice.

Wait, what was the status of tranlsation machines on B5? I’ve forgotten.

Farscape uses a translator microbe

Star Trek uses a universal translator

B5 does what?

B5 doesn’t have universal translators that I remember. ISTR the Gaim had a translator built into their helmets but in general the aliens spoke English (or Earth or whatever it was called), and for dramatic purposes we got a translation of the alien-alien conversations. Also, I think the Vorlons communicated directly to the brain so translation was a moot point.

Wasn’t there an issue with the crews of the White Star fleet who only spoke Minbari, so Ivanova and Sheridan had to learn the language?

Probably a mix of both. Presumably, when we see Delenn talking to the Grey Council with no non-Mimbari around, they’re not actually speaking English to each other. But when she’s talking to Sheridan, I think she’s meant to be speaking Earthman to him.

Translation machines do exist for species which can’t physically make human-language sounds (the Gaim and the pak’ma’ra utilize them, for instance). But generally everyone has to learn to speak the language of whatever aliens they’re around. The Minbari crews of the White Stars don’t speak any human language, for instance, so when Ivanova (who doesn’t speak Minbari, or at least not very much) is commanding one she has to bring along Marcus or Lennier to translate for her.

As for Londo’s accent, in one of the DVD extras there is an interview with Bruce Boxleitner, who recounts that after he started working on the show he confronted Jurasik and demanded to know just exactly what kind of accent it was. Jurasik said that it was “an Eastern European accent” - in the accent. So my guess is that Jurasik was perfectly happy hamming it up and threw in a fun accent to allow him to do so more freely.